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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

How to Build a Successful Tech Startup: Advice From a Four-Time Founder 

Hire the right people, create a category, and make sure there’s a deeper purpose behind your work. 

How to Build a Successful Tech Startup: Advice From a Four-Time Founder 
[Front Image: vadim_key/AdobeStock, Back Image: hakinmhan/AdobeStock]

If you’re a first-time founder looking for a rocketship building manual, I have bad news: it doesn’t exist.

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However, as a four-time founder, I can offer insights into what made my companies successful that may help you along the way.

In 2016, my wife and I co-founded our startup, Chili Piper, with two principles in mind. First, we believed something was broken with the inbound process at B2B SaaS companies. This became the basis for the product. Second, we believe there are smart people all over the world. This belief became the foundation of our company culture.

CREATE A CATEGORY, NOT JUST A POINT SOLUTION

As someone who’s been in the SaaS space for a long time, I knew there was something broken about the way B2B SaaS companies were handling demo requests and other hand-raisers. Nine times out of 10, when you visit a SaaS company’s website and fill out a form, you’re routed to a thank-you page and forced to play the waiting game until a sales rep gets back to you.

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This can take anywhere from hours to days. And that’s a bad thing for your overall conversion rates. According to Salesforce data, 78% of B2B buyers end up selecting the first vendor to respond to them.

So why are B2B vendor response times abysmal? Shouldn’t it stand to reason that the easiest prospects to convert are the ones who are already interested in your product? Your priority should be making it as easy as possible for those people to convert.

From this realization, a movement was born. The key takeaway here is to identify a larger issue that you can solve instead of a point solution for a specific problem. From there, your product offering will expand organically.

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INFUSE YOUR WORK WITH DEEPER MEANING

Tech is great, but at the end of the day, no one’s B2B SaaS product is saving the world. With that in mind, it’s crucial to imbue the work you’re doing with deeper meaning.

For us, that’s been through philanthropic efforts and hiring globally in line with our conviction that there are smart people all over the world.

GIVE BACK

Have a cause that’s close to your heart? Consider setting aside some funds from your next capital raise to donate. Just because you’re growing a new business doesn’t mean you can’t put money into your core values. We started a foundation and funneled $1 million of our capital to it, along with 1% of our profits.

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EMBRACE REMOTE AND HIRE GLOBALLY

It’s counterintuitive to everything they teach in business school about protecting your bottom line, but one thing I’ve found is investing in people and culture early on will pay off in spades down the line.

Hiring globally and empowering your employees to work from anywhere isn’t just good for culture — it’s better for business.

We’ve been able to attract higher-quality talent and meet aggressive revenue goals by embracing remote work.

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Not sure where to start? There are some great resources out there that can help.

THE BOTTOM LINE

My advice to startup founders? Hire the right people, create a category, and make sure there’s a deeper purpose behind your work.

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Do that, and the rocketship will build itself.


Cofounder and CEO, Chili Piper

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